We’re going to tell you two things you probably already know:
- If you’re struggling with addiction, or if you love a friend or family member currently struggling through an addiction, hope and freedom are waiting.
- The road from addiction to that freedom is not easy, but it is possible.
Anyone who has found themselves struggling with any addiction understands how easy it is to lose hope. Any attempts to break free can feel fruitless, and after sinking back into old habits time and time again, it can even feel easier to accept your “new” broken self than to continue fighting for your old life.
But make no mistake: freedom still waits. No one has ever fallen so far into addiction that they can’t be helped out of it. It’s only a matter of finding inner strength and surrounding yourself with the right combination of addiction recovery resources. The following 7 steps break down that process, from addiction to recovery, and offer concrete tips and resources along the way that can help you reach freedom and stay there.
1. Admit to your friends, and to yourself, that you have a problem.
Sadly, there are so many individuals who will never make it beyond this stage in the addiction recovery process, simply because they cannot admit to themselves and to their peers that they have an issue. Strength isn’t found in ignoring our issues; it’s found in admitting our weaknesses, and together overcoming them. Admitting that you have a problem, both to yourself and to the friends and family members you’ve chosen to accompany you on your addiction recovery journey, is the first step toward reaching the freedom that waits on the other side.
2. Find support from day one.
Support from family members and friends during your recovery process can make the difficult days (and the easy ones) that much better. However, you’re also going to want to find professional help during your recovery process, from licensed mental health specialists who understand the struggles, the challenges and even the victories you’re likely to experience along the way. Whether you opt for virtual counseling, face-to-face addiction therapy or even anonymous support groups led by certified mental health authorities, make sure that you infuse your addiction recovery process with a healthy dose of professional mental health treatment.
3. Detox through your first days of sobriety.
No matter the addictive substance or activity you’re looking to remove from your life, the detox period will likely prove a difficult one. Once you’ve committed to removing the addition from your life, and once you’ve surrounded yourself with individuals and professionals who will accompany you and support you, it’s time to detox.
It’s time to quit the addiction, and weather the detox period to come.
Whenever you remove an addiction from your life, the abstinence period can yield all sorts of personal responses. You’re likely to experience all sorts of physical and emotional reactions, as your body and mind together cope with the removal of the addiction. Let’s make one thing very clear: every second you spend fighting against the effects of your detox period, every second you spend free of your addiction, is a victory. Even if you’re only seconds, minutes or hours into your detox, you’ve already accomplished something you couldn’t or didn’t before: an attempt to distance yourself from the worst thing in your entire life.
Beyond the physical responses your body might have to a detox, you’re also likely to experience one or several emotional responses. These can include temporary anxiety or stress, difficulty falling or staying asleep, emotional discomfort, even an inability to concentrate on anything else.
Remember: the effects that a detox period has on your body and mind are temporary. But the freedom that results from the detox? As long as you protect it, that freedom is permanent.
4. Rewrite your daily routine.
There’s a reason why you first succumbed to your addiction. Maybe you reached a low point in your life; maybe you endured a particularly difficult relationship, experienced severe trauma or simply found comfort in an addictive substance. No matter the reason, free people make free choices. And your key to reaching and maintaining freedom lies in how successfully you can rewrite your daily routine, so that you never, ever fall into those habits again.
Take time to examine your entire daily and weekly routine, focusing on junctures where you would typically fall prey to your own addiction. What contributed to those moments? Did you initially resist before giving up? How can you avoid the moments of isolation, loneliness, vulnerability or temptation that directly fed your addiction? Whether it’s a mobile application for hourly accountability, daily check-ins with a therapist or simply the self-discipline to avoid old habits, rewrite your old habits to pave the way for a better, more productive, entirely less dependent you.
5. Enjoy the small victories.
Even before you’re totally home free, you’ll start to experience small victories like you haven’t since before your addiction began or significantly worsened. You’ll notice sunny days; you’ll finally find the energy to clean the house, take a walk or enjoy a movie; you’ll find it easier to speak to friends and family members with kindness; you’ll opt for healthy choices more easily. When these moments happen, no matter how small, take the time to thoroughly enjoy them, before thoroughly congratulating yourself. Even though there are hard moments to come, these moments are a sign that you’re well on your way toward a happier, sober you. And that’s something worth the celebration.
6. Recognize and avoid relapse.
During your addiction recovery process, setbacks are going to be somewhat unavoidable. Just as there are going to be little victories along the way, there are likely to be times when you can begin to slip back into the same depression that contributed to your fall into addiction the first time.
And now that you’re beginning to distance yourself from your addiction, and all of the negative consequences it imposed on your life, relapse becomes a real threat. The first step in avoiding relapse is simply learning to recognize the triggers you first identified in step four. Learn to avoid moments of weakness or vulnerability, and you’ll avoid relapse tendencies that see so many people fall back into the same damaging addiction cycles.
7. Reach freedom, and stay there.
And after you’ve reached personal freedom, a freedom from addiction that you likely once believed was impossible, don’t you dare fall back into those same old habits. Make sure that the new habits you established in step four become permanent ones. Make sure that you take the time to enjoy all of the benefits your freedom has afforded you. And make sure that you take the time to remember the despair, the loneliness and the desperation that were all regular emotions when you were victim to your own addiction, to ensure you’re taking steps to prevent ever sinking to that place again.
Putting the steps to addiction recovery into practice
No one said that addiction recovery was an easy process. However, it’s a journey that is every bit as sweet as you thought it would be once you reach the conclusion. Addiction recovery is possible in your life, no matter the addiction, no matter the intensity. After you admit to yourself and to your loved ones that your addiction is more than you can handle on your own, and after you’ve put the right building blocks into place to survive detox and install new habits, you’ve already done more than you thought was ever possible. And once you’ve restored your previous quality of life and distanced yourself from the damaging habits that once controlled your life, you’ll start to wonder what else is possible now that you’re addiction-free!